St Kitts & Nevis
Near-perfect packages – that’s how you might think of St Kitts and Nevis. The two-island nation combines beaches with beauteous mountains, activities to engage your body and rich history to engage your mind. The legacies of the sugar industry survive in pleasant plantation inns and the local culture is mellow, friendly and infused with a pulsing soca beat.
St Martin & Sint Maarten
Two nations, one island. How strange it feels to visit a half-Dutch, half-French territory, with two very distinct personalities. For visitors, it's a great opportunity to get the best of both worlds. First and foremost, get your tan. With 37 picture-perfect beaches that are spread out all over the island, your vacation here is sure to be a dream.
East of Puerto Plata
Cabarete long ago stole the crown of tourism capital of the north coast – here you can fill your days with surfing and mountain biking but still dig into great seafood at a beachside restaurant. Sosúa, Cabarete’s seedier neighbor, has a pretty beach, and a good selection of restaurants and hotels.
Turks & Caicos
The Turks and where? That’s the reaction most people have when you mention these tropical isles. Although small in size, they offer a range of experiences. Providenciales gets all the noise and has constant construction along its beautiful main beach. It's an ever-more-popular destination for upscale vacationers looking for low-key fun in the sun.
West is best – at least as far as those quintessential snapshots of Puerto Rico go. Here the languid, azure ocean takes on a visceral palpability because this is the place to get in it: paddling like mad to catch a ride on one perfect wave after another, or swimming off sandy shorelines that regularly grace 'world's best beach' lists.
Guadeloupe is a fascinating archipelago of islands, with each island offering travelers something different while retaining its rich Franco-Caribbean culture and identity. Guadeloupe’s two main islands look like the wings of a butterfly and are joined together by a mangrove swamp.
Americans from the east coast fleeing winter make Aruba the most touristed island in the southern Caribbean. And that’s not really surprising given that it has miles of the best beaches, plenty of package resorts and a compact and cute main town, Oranjestad, which is ideally suited for the two-hour strolls favored by day-tripping cruise-ship passengers.
Put the tourists of Trinidad in a room and you’ll have an awkward party: on one side will be wallflower bird-watchers tangled in camera and binocular straps; and on the other – the side with the bar – you’ll have the party-hound Carnival fans turning up the music and trying on their spangly costumes.
El Yunque & East Coast
The east coast is Puerto Rico shrink-wrapped; a tantalizing taste of almost everything the island has to offer squeezed into an area you can drive across in a couple of hours. Sodden rainforest teems with noisy wildlife and jungle waterfalls at El Yunque National Forest, the commonwealth’s tropical gem.